Jazz can be defined as the musical form that has its origins in the African American communities as a result of the confluence between the European and African traditions of music. Its development took place in the southern United States where these communities used to reside. It has made use of the American music for its development and it has been developing since its discovery in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. In its evolutions, different styles have developed and each style differs from the one that follows it. Some of the styles that have been developed include: big-band swing, New Orleans Dixieland, bebop, afro Cuban, etc. This paper will seek to analyze the Jazz styles, their chronological order of development, the composers and the difference between each style with the one that follows it.


This was amongst the first styles to be developed and came immediately after the abolition of slavery and the introduction of African American education. Since the African Americans could not easily get jobs after completing education, they started entertaining people and the result was the development of the ragtime (Kim, 2003). William H. Krell is one of the composers of ragtime who published a piano instrumental ragtime. Other composers include Tom Turpin who was the first African American to publish a rag, Scott Joplin who was a pianist, etc. These publications took place towards the end of the nineteenth century and they paved way for the development of other Jazz.

New  Orleans Music


The New Orleans Music also made great influences to the development of jazz. Performers of jazz were now presenting their talents in bars, brothels, funerals, etc. There was a change this time since the composers of this time introduced the use of brass, reeds, and drums in the instrumentals (Kim, 2003). The reeds and the brass had been tuned to produce the twelve tone scale. Some of the popular composers of the New Orleans Music include: Buddy Bolden who produced the song Buddy Bolden Blues, Jerry Roll Morton who performed in New York and Chicago and made major contributions to the development of the New Orleans style. Others include: James Reese, Eubie Blake, etc. Another difference is that the New Orleans music was presented in ceremonies such as funerals and bars which was not the case with the Ragtime.


The swing was mostly performed by large groups that had formed as performing groups and it not only consisted of singers and players of instruments but also introduced dancers in the jazz. This was the major difference between the New Orleans Music and the swing. Another development took place where this music could now be played in the radios in New York and Chicago. By the fact that it was a collection by many, the swing gave different individuals the opportunity to solo making the music very entertaining (Kim, 2003). This period was marked by the relaxation of social classes where the African Americans could now be recruited into the bands and could perform together with the whites. Some of the composers of the swing include: CAB Calloway, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy, Fletcher Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Charlie, Christian, etc. As earlier stated, the major differences between the New Orleans music and the swing was that the swing now performed as groups and also gave the African Americans the opportunity to join these groups leading to the first linkages between the whites and the blacks.

Dixieland Revival

This is a revival that was brought by the old individuals who had been playing the traditional style and the new musicians who were joining the field (Mark, 2009). It became popular in the 1950s and the 1960s and the composers included individuals such as Eddie Condon, Max Kaminsky, Lu Watters band, etc.



In this era, the jazz music was changed to more challenging art on the side of the musicians. It differed from the Swing music in that it eliminated the element of dancing in the music. Most of the styles also changed where the quality of the chord now mattered and the drumming style changed (Mark, 2009). The response of the artistes and the fans was at times hostile due to the many restrictions that were put. The composers included: Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Max Roach, etc.

Cool Jazz

A new style developed in the 1940s where the tension introduced by the Bebop was relieved. The cool jazz included smooth and calm long linear lines of music (Kim, 2003). It came as a result of the combination of the music by the whites and that by the blacks. The difference between the style and the Bebop is that the cool jazz was not as aggressive as the Bebop but was a bit cool. Some of the composers include; Miles Davis, Lars Gullin, Bengt Hallberg, etc.

Latin Jazz

This included the involvement of rhythms from the African and the Latin American tunes (James, 2001). The instruments that were played were also increased where instruments such as timbale, conga, claves and guiro were used from the Africans. The composers include: Tito Puente, Xavier Cugat, Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, etc.

Jazz Fusion


Here, the tunes of the jazz music and the rock music were combined to produce new tunes (Mark, 2009). New electronic instruments were also introduced. The major key players here included: Key Davis, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Tony Williams, etc. Other short styles were developing in between and also made great influences to the development of the Jazz to its current place.


The interaction between the music of the Europeans and the Africans led to the development of the Jazz. This took place in the southern united sates and since its introduction, many styles have been developed leading to changes in the styles and the performance in general.


James, L. C. (2001). African American Jazz and Rap: Social and Philosophical Examinations of

Black Expressive Behavior. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 409-422.

Kim, J. T. (2003). Jazz Styles. Retrieved on 25-Nov-09 from http://kjt.glis.net/tealflutestudio/Jaz zStyles.html

Mark, C. G. (2009). Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. New York: McFarland, 3-7